Você está na página 1de 5

Sign In

My Account

SUBSCRIBE: Home Delivery

Digital

Gift Subscriptions

Real Estate

Rentals

Cars

Today's Paper

Going Out Guide

Find&Save

PostT V Politics Opinions Local Sports National World Business Tech Lifesty le Entertainment Jobs More

Wonkblog

Economic and domestic policy, and lots of it.

Obamacare is adding
insurers where theyre
most needed

Newsletter signup

The good news: We're


back to 2008 job levels.
That's also the bad
news.

Economy

Business

Health Care

Welcome to the era of


highly stable home
prices

Transportation

Archives

Less than zero: Europe


introduces negative
interest rates to save its
economy

One of Americas most


expensive cities just
voted to be more
expensive

What our reasons for


moving say about the
economy

Americas taxes are the most progressive


in the world. Its government is among the
least.
BY DYLAN MATTHEWS April 5, 2013 at 2:04 pm

More

Comments

A few readers were surprised by my mention Thursday that the U.S. tax code, while

less progressive than it may initially appear, is actually the most progressive in the
developed world. But it's true! For example, look at how big a share of the income pie
the top 10 percent gets vs. what share of taxes it pays here, and then compare that to
peer countries like Britain, France, Germany and Sweden:

Also on Wonkblog
WonkTalk: Ezra's not sure the jobs number
will stick

Our top 10 percent gets a bigger slice to start, but it also pays a much higher share of
the tax burden than the upper classes in other countries do. In Sweden, generally
considered the most economically egalitarian country on the planet, the rich pay taxes
that are more or less exactly their share of income. These numbers are a little dated,
coming as they do from a 2008 OECD report, but the point stands.
Now, where this gets interesting is when you take transfers that is, stuff like Social
Security, Medicare/Medicaid, food stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and other
government programs designed to improve people's standards of living into account.
Those programs, like progressive taxes, reduce inequality relative to what it would be
without them. But some reduce it more than others. And even though the United States
has the most progressive tax system in the world, its overall tax and transfer system

reduces inequality less than those in peer countries do:

The most redistributionist countries on the planet tend not to be those with really
progressive taxes. Instead, they're the countries that tax regressively but then direct
that money overwhelmingly to poor residents.

40 Comments

Discussion Policy

You must be signed in to comment. Sign In


(https://account.washingtonpost.com/actmgmt/registration/login/commenting?
destination=http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/05/americas-taxes-are-the-mostprogressive-in-the-world-its-government-is-among-the-least/) or Register
(https://account.washingtonpost.com/actmgmt/registration/group/commenting?
destination=http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/05/americas-taxes-are-the-mostprogressive-in-the-world-its-government-is-among-the-least/)
Conversation Live

All Comments

Newest First

zippyspeed
2/26/2014 9:26 PM GMT+0100
America has the most progressive tax system in the world, one where the rich pay most of the taxes:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/20...
(http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/05/americas-taxes-are-the-mostprogressive-in-the-world-its-government-is-among-the-least/)
But of course taxpayers don't create deficits, spending does. In this case, spending on enormous
pension programs that were set up by politicians and labor unions sitting on the same side of the
table together.
Like

Reply

Jake43
1/30/2014 8:53 PM GMT+0100
Americas taxes are the most progressive in the world. Its government is among the least.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/20...
(http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/05/americas-taxes-are-the-mostprogressive-in-the-world-its-government-is-among-the-least/)
Like

Reply

jnc4p
1/21/2014 4:16 PM GMT+0100
It's true:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/20...
(http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/05/americas-taxes-are-the-mostprogressive-in-the-world-its-government-is-among-the-least/)
Like

Reply

GoNatsGo
12/27/2013 8:15 PM GMT+0100
In fact, the United States already has the most progressive income tax system in the entire world.
I can already hear all the liberals out there thinking "you got that from some right-wing website". As a
matter of fact, it has been stated right here in this very newspaper:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/20...
(http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/05/americas-taxes-are-the-mostprogressive-in-the-world-its-government-is-among-the-least/)
Like

Reply

jaj212
6/17/2013 7:13 PM GMT+0200
Donald Fields: try thishttp://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/20...
(http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/05/americas-taxes-are-the-mostprogressive-in-the-world-its-government-is-among-the-least/)
Like

Reply

jnc4p
4/8/2013 10:34 PM GMT+0200
And then there's the VAT vs income tax issue:
"Americas taxes are the most progressive in the world. Its government is among the least.
Posted by Dylan Matthews on April 5, 2013 at 2:04 pm"
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/20...
(http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/05/americas-taxes-are-the-mostprogressive-in-the-world-its-government-is-among-the-least/)
Like

Reply

willows1

This is interesting on so many levels. The key takeaways for me are 1) getting to a more egalitarian
4/8/2013 5:34 PM GMT+0200 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/05/americas-taxes-
nation may not be as difficult as it seems as long as we rely on the government to do it and 2) simply
raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for more overseas liberation/occupation/kill kill kill missions
doesn't make a country a more equitable place to live.
Like

Reply

bruces

A question (as I'm too lazy delve into the 310 page OECD report):
4/7/2013 6:33 PM GMT+0200 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/05/americas-taxes-
Does this include US state taxes also? If so, our taxes wouldn't look nearly so progressive, but it might
be better on transfers.
Like

Reply

Frank Marceau

Irony lies here ...


4/7/2013 7:28 AM GMT+0200 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/05/americas-taxes-
Like

Reply

willows1
4/8/2013 5:38 PM GMT+0200
I believe this is one of those cases of natural consequence masquerading as irony. Lower
overall taxes combined with massive deficit spending on military adventurism have not
combined to lift the middle class. I don't find that ironic or surprising.
Like

Reply

skinzzcpa

The wealthy have ultimate control over the nature and timing of their income so in essence, it is the
4/6/2013 7:27 PM GMT+0200 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/05/americas-taxes-
governments desire to issue debt that is not taxable to its citizens that creates much of this distortion.
Like

Reply

Jasper999

Is that 45% paid by the top ten percent in America mean the portion of FEDERAL taxes paid, or of ALL
4/6/2013 7:21 PM GMT+0200 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/05/americas-taxes-
LEVELS of government paid -- it wasn't clear to me from the post. Anybody know?
Like

Reply

common sens

and we spend twice as much on defense...


4/6/2013 2:50 PM GMT+0200 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/05/americas-taxes-
Like

Reply

common sens

This is very misleading and easily explained by the fact that the US is taxing 25% less, as percentage
4/6/2013 2:44 PM GMT+0200 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/05/americas-taxes-
of GDP, than the average of OECD countries
Like

Reply

RealityCheck13
4/15/2013 8:11 PM GMT+0200
If the point is that our wealthy are already paying their fair share in taxes, then it is not
misleading at all. You are making an entirely different point.
Like

Reply

Ramez_Naam

I found this a very interesting and useful post, myself.


4/6/2013 2:56 AM GMT+0200 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/05/americas-taxes-
One question, that I can't easily tell from the OECD report summary: Do the income share numbers
above include capital gains? Or are they only 'ordinary' income?
Like

Reply

Phil_in_VA
3/19/2014 12:46 AM GMT+0100
Good point... I'm a retiree, living on investment income. My "gross" income as reported to the
IRS would be about 20% higher if it weren't for "qualified" dividends on my 1099-DIV form. My
income is in the $60K range so my ability to do massive income shifting or hiding is limited,
compared to the 1% folks.
Like

Reply

Tim Muir

This post almost gets to an interesting point, but falls at the last hurdle. In all tax systems the rich pay
4/6/2013 12:46 AM GMT+0200 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/05/americas-taxes
the most (in absolute terms) and all welfare systems pay out mostly to poor people. Government
redistributes. The relative progressivity of these systems does affect the level of redistribution, but it's
not nearly as important as the overall size of the state. The reason Sweden is more redistributive than
the US is not that they target benefits at poor people, but because they have higher taxes and a larger
state.

Like

Reply

RealityCheck13
4/15/2013 8:12 PM GMT+0200
That was exactly the point the made in the post.
Like

Reply

More

SUBSCRIBE

PostTV

Mor e w a y s t o g et u s

Politics

Opinions

Local

Sports

National

Con t a ct Us

World

Business

Tech

A bou t Us

Washington Post Live

Help & Contact Info

In the community

Digital Subscription

Reprints & Permissions

Reader Representative

Careers

Gift Subscription

Post Store

Digital Advertising

PostPoints

Photo Store

New spaper Advertising

New spaper in Education

e-Replica

New s Service & Syndicate

Digital Publishing Guidelines

New sletter & Alerts

Entertainm ent

Jobs

Pa r t n er s

Home delivery

Mobile & Apps

Lifesty le

Archive
RSS
Facebook
Tw itter

washingtonpost.com

Ad Choices

1996-2014 The Washington Post Terms of Service Privacy Policy

Submissions and Discussion Policy

RSS Terms of Service